Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ill conceived criminal law? Just the usual thanks

After having a laugh at Clayton Cosgrove below, I thought I'd better go have a look at what he is talking about. Two bills stuck out.

The first is the Gangs and Organised Crime Bill. Going by the press release, it seems like a typical case of throwing good legislative time after bad. Justice Minister Simon Power says "“By doubling the sentence for participation in a gang we are reflecting the culpability of those gang leaders who organise the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine, and we are addressing the low rate of successful convictions".

Eh? It appears that selling P is a worse crime if you are a Mongrel Mob member than if you are an evil sociopath with no friends. Not quite sure why. Nor am I sure why doubling the sentence will increase the number of convictions. (The release says that "of 339 prosecutions there were only 19 convictions" which I guess highlights either how poorly thought out the original legislation was or how incompetent the police are).

They ARE lowering the threshold for the police to get warrants, from investigation of offenses attracting 10 years to ones attracting 7. Of course if this is about targeting P as the Minister claims then this is irrelevant because manufacture and sale of P has a maximum of life.

Actually, it is already very easy for police to get warrants if they have a scrap of evidence to base an application on. The police always moan to politicians that the reason why they can't get on top of gangs is because they are hobbled by pesky laws protecting civil rights. So politicians give police more powers, and shortly thereafter the police are back with the same complaint. That is how civil rights are consistently and continuously undermined. Just have a look at the new campaign to give police yet more powers over boy racers.

All in all, much as it grieves me to agree with Mr Cosgrove, it looks like political theatre gone bad. Sir Graham Latimer got it right when he said that the quickest way to destabilise gangs is to legalise cannabis.

The other bill is about DNA samples.From the press release:

"It allows police to collect DNA from people they ‘intend to charge’, and to match it against samples from unsolved crimes. At present, DNA can be collected only with consent, by judicial approval, or by compulsion where people are suspected or convicted of an offence punishable by more than seven years’ imprisonment, or another specified offence"

So it is about giving the police the right to take DNA from anyone they wish (I intend to charge you....when I've got some evidence) and to use that for a fishing trip through the DNA database.

"And any misuse of profiles will be subject to the full extent of relevant law and civil rights protections, and the police will develop guidelines to avoid any arbitrary or unreasonable application of this power".

Just like they did with Tazers, MoDA search without warrant powers, pepper spray right? Somehow I don't feel comforted.


Nandor Tanczos said...

Tumeke has an interesting post on the subject here:

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that Nandor is of the far left going futher in that direction and thankfully no longer in Parliament with his itrrational ideas. There is far too much violence in Nz and a good reason as to why we are exporting 45,000 good Kiwis to Australia each year even in recession!

Nandor Tanczos said...

Far left? Ya raascat, you think the far left support civil rights? Learn some history.

J said...

Anon -

Yes, I guess civil liberties should be curtailed, just because of the possibility of someone who could be charged might have broken the law at some point.

Or as Key so wonderfully put it,
"if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about."

Ana said...

Kia Ora Nandor

Im concerned about the combined effects this current recession, and these new powers to police will mean to Maori & Pacific Island communities.

Gangs & criminals have been demonised so much in Aotearoa, and its easy to throw people into prison that society has walked away from, " an entire generation of New Zealand’s children and youth has suffered under the reforms launched by the Labour government of 1984-90. It concluded that Maori and Pacific children in particular have been “disproportionately affected” by growing inequality and levels of poverty."

. Im not forgetting the struggle that people have fought to secure civil liberty's and rights, we have seen heaps of those ripped away in the so called 'war on terror' now we see even more with this 'war on gangs'.

Providing communities with the wherewithal and resources to oppose this & empower themselves, is difficult in these times, but do able.

naku noa

Chris T said...

Absolutely, Nandor

As a nation we seem intent on hosing away our civil and political rights on the latest beat-up.

Ten years ago it was "home invasion" scares. Then was the "P-epidemic". Now it's "Boy Racers" and "Gangs". The problem is that to your average kiwi these proposals don't sound that threatening, "if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to worry about". Eventually, the epiphany will come too late. These folk will wake up in a land where every intimate personal detail of their lives is monitored and where trivial nonsense is criminalised.

Heck, the UK is almost there with its CCTV, numberplate tracking, intrusive "anti-terrorist" search laws and the proliferation of ASBOs, CRASBOs and other assorted craziness.

What tickles me are the people who decry "nanny state" when some public agency launches a campaign to make people smarter or healthier or better educated. Yet, these are exactly the same people who are keen to hose away basic human liberties for the craziest fear-based reasons. Funny that those who reject things like healthy choices in state-funded school canteens suddenly believe the government is infallible when it comes to things like DNA data-banks.

Turnip28 said...

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety

Ben Franklin.

rangi said...

Not getting my DNA, bumboklaats!!!

rangi said...

What would you be charged with if you simply refused to give a sample?